Well, for all of you who are following the stars and looking to constellations to determine your fates, you are probably unaware that you’re doing it wrong…
If you look to your horoscope for a preview of your day, look again: You’re probably following somebody else’s supposed fate.
Thanks to Earth’s wobble, astrological signs are, well, bunk. (Or even more bunk than you might expect.) Astrological signs are determined by the position of the sun relative to certain constellations on a person’s day of birth. The problem is, the positions were determined more than 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, the stars have shifted in the night sky so much that horoscope signs are nearly a month off. [Read: Why Your Horoscope for 2011 Is All Wrong ]
“Astrology tells us that the sun is in one position, whereas astronomy tells us it’s in another position,” said Joe Rao, SPACE.com’s skywatching columnist and a lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium.
The shift is caused by precession, the wobble in the Earth’s axis caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon to the Earth’s equator. Precession popped into the spotlight this week after Minnesota Planetarium Society board member Parke Kunkle told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the gap between the astrological and the astronomical view. The story spread around the Internet quickly, but it’s actually old news, Rao said.
Very old news.
“The earliest known astronomer to recognize and assess the movement of precession was Aristarchus of Samos, who lived around 280 B.C.,” Rao told LiveScience.